Hello, it’s time for another look at new releases arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. There’s an intriguing mix of big studio fare, indie features and old titles making their high definition debuts. Be sure to click on any links you see to read more about them. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!
Big New Releases!
Altitude – An FBI agent gets demoted to a desk job after going rogue during a hostage negotiation. Of course, while flying to her new position, she is seated right next to a thief and the plane is hijacked by a criminal organization. The lady must fight back to save the passengers and take down the bad guys. This low-budget action/thriller hasn’t gotten too many reviews yet, but the ones that have appeared have been muted, describing it as competent but unmemorable. At least it features a few familiar names like Denise Richards, Dolph Lundgren, Jonathan Lipnicki and Greer Grammar.
Death Pool – This low-budget horror/thriller involves a psychologically disturbed pool cleaner in Los Angeles who can’t control his urge to drown beautiful women in the water. Apparently caused by childhood trauma, the individual tries to avoid working near any liquids, but when he finds himself out of cash and in need of a job, he takes one at a pool and starts up his deranged hobby. There are currently no reviews available for this title, so don’t expect too much. The cast includes Sara Malakul Lane, Randy Wayne and Shawn C. Phillips.
Everybody Loves Somebody – A successful professional woman in LA who has given up on love decides to attend a family wedding south of the border and asks a co-worker to pose as her boyfriend. Unfortunately, she runs into an old flame at the ceremony, leading to plenty of miscommunication and comic complications. The press were quite positive about this Mexican, foreign-language film. While most admitted the setup was anything but unique, they complimented the breezy charm of the piece and suggested that it played things differently enough to entertain. Karla Souza, Jose Maria Yazpik and Ben O’Toole headline the film.
Hearing is Believing – Rachel Flowers is the subject of this documentary. The 23-year-old musician was born premature and lost her eyesight, but that hasn’t stopped her from starting a career as a musician. The film tells her story (scored to music written and performed by the artist) from a promising young student at the Southern California Conservatory of Music to the present day. It also includes interviews with musicians like Dweezil Zappa and Keith Emerson. This one is premiering on disc and through streaming formats, so interested parties will just have to take a chance on it.
Life – The highest profile release of the week is this sci-fi horror picture about a group of astronauts floating above the Earth on the international space station. When they come into contact with a strange new life form, they come under attack and must determine how to stop the creature from getting to the planet below. Notices were generally good for this creeper. A few complained that it borrowed too heavily from previous pictures in the same vein, but most felt that the A-list cast and impressive production elevated the material and delivered the shocks. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya and Ariyon Bakare. To read a full review, click here.
Railroad Tigers – The latest from Jackie Chan is a Hong Kong period piece that features the actor as a Chinese railroad worker who helps freedom fighters get food to citizens as they fight against invading Japanese forces. One imagines there will be plenty of stunts and action involved. Sadly, reviews were not as strong for this foreign-language production. Many wrote that there were some impressive moments with the fighting atop a speeding train, but felt that the movie lagged overall and felt a little too goofy and inconsequential given the seriousness of the history behind it. It also features Jaycee Chan (the star’s son) and Zitao Huang.
Sour Grapes – Wine enthusiasts will be interested in this documentary about a counterfeiter who managed to trick numerous collectors into buying all kinds of fake vintages through the auction market. It’s told from the perspective of a wine producer who discovered that the person was selling his product from a year in which they hadn’t produced anything and follows the winemakers efforts to expose the truth. Critics praised the film, calling it a great story that interestingly depicts how a charlatan managed to fool some wealthy, profiteering drinkers with too much money on their hands.
This independent UK/USA co-production is set in London and follows a young woman who dreams of being a children’s book author. However, one part of her life that she doesn’t excel at is her garden. When her landlord forces her to take care of the problem or face eviction, she must contend with her cantankerous, competitive neighbor, who is exceptional at maintaining his foliage. Reviews were strong for the comedy/drama. Some thought it was too cutesy for its own good, but more members of the press suggested that it was enjoyably sweet and whimsical. It stars Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Wilkinson and Andrew Scott.
Wilson – Based on the Daniel Clowes graphic novel, a lonely misanthrope gets the shock of his life after meeting his estranged wife for the first time in many years when he discovers that he has fathered a daughter. The eccentric attempts to meet with and establish a relationship with his teenage offspring. The press were split on the results. About half commented that the character was difficult to like and that the film became overly sentimental, while others enjoyed the titular misanthrope and thought that the star’s comic timing was excellent. The cast includes Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Judy Greer.
Blasts From the Past!
If you’re a fan of horror cinema, then you’ve no doubt heard of director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria). Arrow Video are releasing a new Blu-ray/DVD combo of his first feature-length film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970). This stylized murder/mystery is a doozy and one that would inspire a new genre (“giallo” named for the paper that the pulpy books that inspired these types of movie were printed on) and countless imitations. The plot involves a musician who witnesses a bizarre murder and then attempts to figure out who did it, putting his own life in danger. Besides an impressive new 4K transfer that bests any other release out there, it comes with plenty of extras. They include an audio commentary with a “giallo” expert, new interviews with Argento, one of the actors and a film critic analysis. There’s also a visual essay on the director’s work and publicity materials. It also comes with a 60 page book on the production with plenty of images. To read all about this Blu-ray, click here.
Shout! Factory have a trio of Blu-ray coming your way. The first is Car Wash (1976), an ensemble comedy featuring Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Duke, Garrett Morris and The Pointer Sisters among many others. It’s about a bunch of employees and their misadventures over a work day at the title location. For those wondering, this movie did inspired the hit tune that earned a Golden Globe nomination. This release includes a director audio commentary, new featurettes with the producer and co-star Otis Day and publicity materials.
The distributor are also releasing the monster movie, Island of Terror (1966). Set on a land mass off of the coast of Ireland, it features a group of locals (led by Peter Cushing) on a quest to fight off an attack of an odd, turtle-like creatures that attack humans and eat their bones (leaving a bag of skin behind). The Blu-ray includes a new transfer taken from the original interpositive and features a film historian commentary, trailer and stills gallery.
Finally, they have a Collector’s Edition of the cult flick, The Lawnmower Man (1992). Pierce Brosnan stars in this one as a scientist whose virtual reality software takes on a life of its own, turning a slow-witted gardener into a superhuman being. This two-disc Blu-ray set includes new 4K scans of two versions of the film (a theatrical and much longer director’s cut), a lengthy documentary, audio commentaries, deleted scenes, publicity materials and other bonuses. Amusingly, it was originally based on a short story by Stephen King, but the writer had his name taken off of the film and all publicity materials.
The Paul Naschy Collection is a Blu-ray set that includes Vengeance of the Zombies (1972), Mummy Rises From the Tomb (1972), Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1973), Night of the Werewolf (1980) and Human Beasts (1980). All of the movies are featured in complete uncut versions. They also include deleted scenes and alternate versions of sequences and a few titles even have audio commentaries by fans and members of the podcast, NaschyCast. If you’re a fan of the actor, you probably won’t be able to do any better than this set.
The Marseilles Trilogy from Criterion includes three features from filmmaker Marcel Pagnol on Blu-ray. They include Marius (1931), Fanny (1932) and Cesar (1936). Besides the new 4K transfers of each title, the set includes numerous bonuses that include a new introduction by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier and an interview with Nicolas Pagnol, grandson of writer-director Marcel Pagnol. There are also segments from Marcel Pagnol: Morceaux Choisis, a 1973 documentary series on the director’s life and work and a short 1935 documentary about the Marseille harbor produced by Pagnol. In addition, buyers will find archival interviews with actors Orane Demazis, Pierre Fresnay, and Robert Vattier and a new video essay by scholar Brett Bowles. Finally, there’s a French television clip from 2015 about the restoration of the trilogy. Great stuff.
Kino have a double-feature Blu-ray of Thunderbirds Are GO (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968). These are fun live-action kid’s films from the UK featuring the famous crime-fighting marionettes as they stop all kinds of threats to the world.
And Warner Archive have a special made-to-order Blu-ray for Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). It’s a fable starring Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and Abe Vigoda.
You Know, For Kids!
Thunderbirds Are GO/Thunderbird 6 (Kino)
On the Tube!
Colony: Season 2
Incorporated: Season 1
Nature: Forest of the Lynx (PBS)
Nature: Hotel Armadillo (PBS)
Seven Deadly Sins: Season 1, Part 2
Workaholics: The Final Season